Gaps in Postsecondary Readiness

Our Take

  • Available data show significant gaps in readiness for college and careers among high school graduates, and those gaps are particularly pronounced among disadvantaged student groups. Thus, many state graduation options leave students unprepared for college or a career.
  • These gaps are apparent. Many states have seen record-high graduation rates in recent years; however, in no state does the percentage of students earning a proficient score on statewide assessments in math and English meet the percentage of students earning a diploma.
  • State data about college- and career-ready courses of study and college- and career-ready assessment scores must be transparently reported and disaggregated across subgroups.

Read More

While other measures of student achievement have remained stagnant or declined, high school graduation rates continue to rise. So, what does graduating from high school really mean for students?

In too many states, a high school diploma does not mean that a graduate is ready to successfully enter college, the military, or the workforce. In fact, each year, states are graduating thousands of students who fail to demonstrate proficiency in key skills assessed by states’ mathematics and English language arts summative assessments.

How do we know that some students are graduating from high school unprepared?

Data suggest that many high school graduates are unable to perform tasks needed in entry-level jobs and to enter credit-bearing college courses. There are dire consequences of allowing students to earn a diploma and leave high school without the preparation they need.

  • Employers are spending time and money to “upskill” and train entry-level employees in the math, science, and literacy content that they should have learned in high school.
  • First-year college students are spending time and money on remedial math and English courses that do not count toward graduation.
  • Students who take remedial courses during their first year after high school are much less likely to complete their college education.

What’s more, gaps in readiness for college and careers are wider among students of color, low-income students, and English learners.

Many states do not administer assessments that provide a signal of a student’s readiness for college- and career-level work. This lack of important data leaves students, their families, schools, and other key decisionmakers in the dark about gaps in readiness.

In order to address these gaps in readiness, states need to transparently report data across student subgroups about how well schools are preparing high school graduates for college and careers. This data can help policymakers, advocates, educators, and other stakeholders make informed decisions about how to help all students graduate ready for the future.  

Data Explorer

Examine each state’s graduation options by subject and credit requirements, and compare graduation options within and across states.

Explore The Data